Monday, April 14, 2014

Bunny Buns

I saw these adorable rolls on Pinterest last week.  I knew my young grandsons would love to see these on the Easter table next weekend and I think they will bring a smile to the adults too :)

I did a test run on Saturday - which did not go well. First, the dough did not rise very well,  then I over-baked them!  "Add insult to injury" as they say. 

Sunday, I tried them again with different yeast and made sure my timer was set (and actually running).  Success!  I only wish I had made the ears a little longer as I think they could be mistaken for mice.  By the time I make these for dinner next weekend, I think I'll have all of the wrinkles worked out :-)

The idea for the bunny buns shape came from this blog.  I decided instead to use a recipe for egg buns formulated for bread machines which I found in my copy of  Bread Machine Magic.  They are really good! Just the right amount of buttery sweetness and soft and fluffy in the center.

In preparation for Easter, the decorations have come out of storage (some old, a couple new) and eggs have been colored.  Spring has teased us with some lovely days and even some Easter-y outdoor flowers! (We won't talk about the snow in forecast later today.)

I hope this spring season of birth and renewal brings you joy!  Happy Easter!

Bunny Buns

Adapted from Bread Machine Magic
Printable Recipe

Makes 16 Bunny Buns or 18 Regular Buns

1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, mixed together lightly
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons active, dry yeast (I used quick rising yeast)

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)

Please a large piece of parchment paper or silicone liner on a 18 x 13 inch baking pan (half sheet).

Place all ingredients except egg wash egg, into bread machine in the order recommended by your bread machine. Select the Dough cycle and press Start.

When the dough cycle is finished (my machine takes about 1-1/2 hours), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Gentle roll and stretch the dough into an 18-inch rope. With a sharp knife or bench scraper cut the dough first into 6 pieces and then cut each of those pieces into 3 pieces. Each piece should weight about 1 ounce if you have a digital scale.

For bunny buns, roll 16 pieces into a ball and then stretch slightly (2 pieces of dough are reserved for the 'ears' and/or 'tails', if desired.) Place on the prepared baking sheet. For the bunny shape, I squeezed one third of the ball between my thumb and forefinger to form the head area. To make the ears, pull off a small piece of one of the reserved dough pieces and roll it into a thin rope about 4-5 inches long. Cut the rope in half and bend each piece into an 'ear' and place between the head and body. With a toothpick dipped in flour, press the base of the ears firmly into the dough to keep them in place. Then, poke two eye holes deep into the head with the toothpick. Continue with the rest of the dough balls.

When finished, covered the pan lightly with a tea towel or parchment paper and allow to rise until doubled - about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Brush rolls lightly with beaten egg/water wash and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

May be served warm or cold.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spicy Shrimp (or Lobster) Remoulade on Molasses-Butter Toast

Have I mentioned our Gourmet Group?  Just once or twice, I'm sure :)  There are 10 of us - five couples.  We rotate hosting and creating the menu for our 'turn'.  One recipe is assigned to each non-hosting couple to prepare. This past weekend, one of the other couples hosted and my husband and I were assigned this appetizer recipe.

This recipe was supposed to be Spicy Shrimp Remoulade.  However, our host is an avid fisherman in the Florida Keys and recently brought back these small lobster tails from his friend, a lobster fisherman, with whom he fishes. They offered them to us to use for the recipe.  Thus, the recipe became Spicy lobster Remoulade!

Finding the Wesphalian-style pumpernickel bread was the biggest challenge.  I found it at a store called Woodmans which is only in Wisconsin and Illinois but I would guess that Whole Foods or other well-stocked grocery stores would sell it also.  The brand I found (Rubschlager) came very thinly sliced in a perfectly square package.  The dense bread was delicious toasted with the molasses-butter-chili powder mixture and a perfect pairing to the spicy lobster remoulade.

Everyone at the dinner party that evening loved them!  Well worth the effort if you looking for a special appetizer.  The wonderful thing about the recipe is that absolutely everything can either be prepared the day before or in the morning of serving them. My husband and I did a 'test run' of our recipe the week before using shrimp and I would say the shrimp have a little more flavor but the lobster was a very close runner-up.

Spicy Shrimp (or Lobster) Remoulade on Molasses-Butter Toast

Adapted from Epicurious
Printable Recipe

Serves 4 (the original recipes says it serves 8 but if you truly want 8 generous servings double everything - especially if serving men)


For the molasses butter:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons light molasses
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

For the remoulade sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 1/2 teaspoons drained prepared white horseradish
2 teaspoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Additional ingredients:

12-16 1 1/2-inch rounds or squares cut from Westphalian-style pumpernickel bread slices. (I cut off the crusts and cut each square into fourths)

8 ounces cooked peeled medium shrimp, coarsely chopped  - I use this recipe to boil the shrimp/lobster
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

To Prepare:

The molasses butter:

Using fork, mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend.  The molasses butter can be prepared a day ahead and allowed to soften for spreading.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread molasses butter lightly over bread; arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake until bread begins to firm up, about 10 minutes. Cool. (I found the toasts took longer that the stated time to become crispy.  If undercooked, they will be tough and hard to chew. I baked mine for 12-13 minutes. I prepared the toasts in the morning and kept them in a covered container after cooling.)

The remoulade sauce:

Mix first 12 ingredients in medium bowl. The remoulade can also be made a day ahead and this also allows the flavors to blend. 

When ready to serve, mix the shrimp into remoulade sauce. (I preferred to add the remoulade to the shrimp/lobster to make sure it was not overly coated with dressing.) Top toasts with shrimp mixture. Arrange on a serving dish, sprinkle with chives and serve.